After the 2016 season, the Mets pretty much stood pat on their roster with only very minor tweaks. After the unsuccessful 2017, we can be sure there will not be a repeat of the stand pat approach this offseason.
The Mets have a lot of needs, including a quality infielder to man either second or third base. In a September 30 article in the New York Post, Joel Sherman, at the very end of his piece, threw out the idea that free agent Zack Cozart would be a good fit for the Mets at second base. Let’s examine this possibility of the Mets pursuing Cozart.
Cozart had an excellent 2017 at shortstop for the Reds. He was the starter in the All-Star game, and finished the year with 122 games played and a slash line of .297/.385/.548. He made 5.3 million in 2017, and his contract has expired.
The Reds may try to sign him, but they are a small market team and they do have an excellent prospect for shortstop in Jose Peraza, so they may just move on.
The Mets, of course, feel they are set at short with the athletic Amed Rosario. But both second and third base appear wide open. Sherman suggested second base for Cozart should the Mets acquire him, but third base might be a better option yet. Cozart appears to have lost just a bit of range. His UZR in 2017 at short was 3.7, dropping from 9.6 in 2016. That is not surprising with age, and many players have made the transition from short to third as they get older, Cal Ripken is a good example. Range is about as important at second as it is at shortstop, plus there is the added burden of learning the pivot, not an easy task.
There are a few cons to look at. Cozart has had several injuries over the years including a quad muscle problem last year. His production in 2017 was significantly above his career totals, and he did cool off in the second half.
Some additional pluses include his RISP BA, which was an impressive .337, indicating he is a good clutch hitter. He showed improved selectivity at the plate with a career high in bases on balls with 62. He also had a career high in home runs with 24.
Most teams have either established shortstops or hot prospects at the position, so the market may not be as strong as it is in some years. If Cincinnati decides to make a qualifying offer to him, that would cost them about 18 million, and that looks a little high for a low budget team to cough up.
The Mets certainly could use a veteran presence in their infield to provide some leadership for young projected starters like Rosario at short and Dominic Smith at first. If the Mets do decide to throw some money into upgrading their infield, Cozart could be an attractive option, assuming they can get him for a reasonable price, perhaps on a three year deal..